N.D.P. Member of Provincial Parliament and Official Opposition Education Critic Marit Stiles, as well as 76 Parent Committee Chairs from public school boards across Ontario, are calling on Premier Ford’s government to halt plans for permanent online learning.
Lecce & Ford like to say this terrible plan is about “Parent choice”. But parents reject it. So does @OPSBA @OSTAAECO, federations, unions, Ed experts, Ed workers, students and many individual boards sending their own letters.
Again the unity in opposition is historic.#onpoli
— Marit Stiles (@maritstiles) May 20, 2021
In a letter sent to Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, M.P.P. Stiles and the chairs write their main concerns relate to a lack of transparency. They write that making online learning a permanent option would include centralizing “control of online learning under the auspices of TVOntario…and removing control from school boards that currently have collaborative consortia to deliver online courses.”
They’re also worried about the possibility of the provincial government privatizing education. With the reliance of TVOntario in the MOE’s proposal, they’re worried about the possibility of this approach leading to “further privatization, increasing commercially packaged programs for credits that do not have the necessary pedagogical rigor and alignment to the Ontario curriculum.”
Another main concern addressed in the letter is the mental wellbeing of Ontario students. They write that the Ministry of Education’s (MOE’s) proposal “may be promoting the online learning option to the detriment of student well-being and undermining the integrity of our education system.” They add that the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association found several instances of “feelings of isolation” and increases in mental health concerns among students since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their letter, they offer three recommendations to the provincial government as to how to address their concerns. These include:
- that the Ministry of Education delay the proposed implementation of permanent online learning, and consult with education stakeholders on the best ways to offer this.
- that the Ministry of Education create a “working table” of school board members, parents, education experts, and TVOntario staff to create a “mutually beneficial” system.
- that the Ministry of Education create clearly defined terminology for online learning, which can lead to a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities for school boards and TVOntario staff.
The Minister of Education hasn’t responded.